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  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There was perhaps no issue of greater importance to the financial regulatory reforms of 2010 than the resolution, without taxpayer assistance, of large financial institutions. The rescue of firms such as AIG shocked the public conscience and provided the political force behind the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. Such is reflected in the fact that Titles I and II of Dodd-Frank relate to the identification and resolution of large financial entities. How the tools established in Titles I and II are implemented are paramount to the success of Dodd-Frank. This paper attempts to gauge the likely success of these tools via the lens of similar tools created for the resolution of the housing government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Author: Therese M. Vaughan, Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: International activity related to the regulation and supervision of financial services has exploded since the global financial crisis. The crisis exposed weaknesses in the structure for regulating internationally active banks, and motivated a number of work streams aimed at strengthening standards (most notably, significant revisions to the Basel capital standard for internationally active banks, now known as Basel III). The insurance sector was also stressed by the meltdown in financial markets that occurred in 2007-2008, albeit far less than the banking sector, and, with the exception of AIG, it is generally recognized that insurers played little role in the financial crisis, and that traditional insurance activities do not pose a systemic risk to the financial system.1,2 Nonetheless, the insurance sector has also been targeted for a new stream of regulatory initiatives at the international level. The most important organizations with respect to these activities are the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), both based in Basel, Switzerland. The purpose of this paper is to review these developments and to highlight potential concerns for U.S. insurance markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Empirical research on the causes of financial crises has grown in recent decades. Early work, such as that by Kaminsky and Reinhart, helped establish the link between asset prices and banking crises. While this initial research focused on equity prices, subsequent research expanded the analysis to include residential property prices. This subsequent research is briefly reviewed here. After establishing the link between residential property prices and banking crises, I discuss the role of various credit policies, both for their impact on property prices and for the stability of the financial system in the face of declining property prices. The role of specific loan characteristics, such as loan-to-value (LTV), will be discussed first, followed by the role of institutional leverage. Policy recommendations conclude.
  • Topic: Debt, Global Recession, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Author: Brink Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For over a century, the trend line for the long-term growth of the U.S. economy has held remarkably steady. Notwithstanding huge changes over time in economic, social, and political conditions, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has fluctuated fairly closely around an average annual rate of approximately 2 percent. Looking ahead, however, there are strong reasons for doubting that this historic norm can be maintained.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas Grennes
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The value of government debt relative to the size of the economy has become a serious problem, and the problem is likely to grow in the future. Total debt of the U.S. government relative to gross domestic product increased substantially since the financial crisis and the Great Recession that began in 2007, but the debt ratio has been increasing since 2001. Gross debt relative to GDP increased from 55 percent in 2001 to 67 percent in 2007 to 107 percent in 2012. Comparable figures for debt held by the public (net debt or gross debt minus debt held by various government agencies) were 80 percent in 2011 and 84 percent in May 2012 (IMF 2012). As a result, the debt ratio is now the highest in U.S. history, except for World War II, when it reached 125 percent of GDP (Bohn 2010). U.S. debt is also high relative to the debt of other high-income countries, and projections of future debt place the U.S. government among the world's largest debtors (IMF 2011, 2012; Evans et al. 2012). Gross debt consists of all the bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury, but a broader measure that includes contingent debt results in a much larger debt (Cochrane 2011). Contingent debt includes unfunded obligations related to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and loan guarantees to agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and these obligations are so large that they have been described as a “debt explosion” (Evans et al. 2012). The sovereign debt crisis of the European Union has similarities to the U.S. debt problem, but it also has significant differences, as will be shown below. Interestingly, the poorer countries of the world that have frequently experienced debt problems in the past, have avoided major debt problems so far.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Mark Hallerberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Germany has a northern European welfare state. This means that social benefits are extensive compared not only to the American standards but compared to other European countries, such as Italy or Spain. In the early 2000s, both foreign observers and Germans themselves considered the country the “sick man of Europe.” Its firms seemed increasingly uncompetitive, due especially to its costly labor. Economic growth in this period was stagnant. This “exporting giant” even had a slight current account deficit.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Opponents of allowing younger workers to privately invest a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal accounts have long pointed to the supposed riskiness of private investment. The volatility of private capital markets over the past several years, and especially recent declines in the stock market, have seemed to bolster their argument.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current narrative regarding the 2008 systemic financial system collapse is that numerous seemingly unrelated events occurred in unregulated or underregulated markets, requiring widespread bailouts of actors across the financial spectrum, from mortgage borrowers to investors in money market funds. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by the U.S. Congress to investigate the causes of the crisis, promotes this politically convenient narrative, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act operationalizes it by completing the progressive extension of federal protection and regulation of banking and finance that began in the 1930s so that it now covers virtually all financial activities, including hedge funds and proprietary trading. The Dodd-Frank Act further charges the newly created Financial Stability Oversight Council, made up of politicians, bureaucrats, and university professors, with preventing a subsequent systemic crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Kirby, Emily McClintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many people on the left still dismiss the tea party as the same old religious right, but the evidence says they are wrong. The tea party has strong libertarian roots and is a functionally libertarian influence on the Republican Party.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics, Insurgency, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria, Emily McClintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the financial crisis of 2008, the financial markets would have been better served if the credit rating agency industry had been more competitive. We present evidence that suggests the Securities and Exchange Commission's designation of Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs) inadvertently created a de facto oligopoly, which primarily propped up three firms: Moody's, S, and Fitch. We also explain the rationale behind the NRSRO designation given to credit rating agencies (CRAs) and demonstrate that it was not intended to be an oligopolistic mechanism or to reduce investor due diligence, but rather was intended to protect consumers. Although CRAs were indirectly constrained by their reputation among investors, the lack of competition allowed for greater market complacency. Government regulatory use of credit ratings inflated the market demand for NRSRO ratings, despite the decreasing informational value of credit ratings. It is unlikely that this sort of regulatory framework could result in anything except misaligned incentives among economic actors and distorted market information that provides inaccurate signals to investors and other financial actors. Given the importance of our capital infrastructure and the power of credit rating agencies in our financial markets, and despite the good intentions of the uses of the NRSRO designation, it is not worth the cost and should be abolished. Regulators should work to eliminate regulatory reliance on credit ratings for financial safety and soundness. These regulatory reforms will, in turn, reduce CRA oligopolistic power and the artificial demand for their ratings.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rising federal spending and huge deficits are pushing the nation toward a financial and economic crisis. Policymakers should find and eliminate wasteful, damaging, and unneeded programs in the federal budget. One good way to save money would be to cut subsidies to businesses. Corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100 billion a year.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steve H. Hanke, Nicholas Krus
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This chapter supplies, for the first time, a table that contains all 56 episodes of hyperinflation, including several which had previously gone unreported. The Hyperinflation Table is compiled in a systematic and uniform way. Most importantly, it meets the replicability test. It utilizes clean and consistent inflation metrics, indicates the start and end dates of each episode, identifies the month of peak hyperinflation, and signifies the currency that was in circulation, as well as the method used to calculate inflation rates.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Jeffrey M. Lacker
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 was a watershed event for the Federal Reserve and other central banks. The extraordinary actions they took have been described, alternatively, as a natural extension of monetary policy to extreme circumstances or as a problematic exercise in credit allocation. I have expressed my view elsewhere that much of the Fed's response to the crisis falls in the latter category rather than the former (Lacker 2010). Rather than reargue that case, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the institutional reasons behind the prevailing propensity of many modern central banks to intervene in credit markets.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private subprime lenders have deservedly garnered the bulk of attention and blame for the mortgage crisis, other federal programs also distort our mortgage market and put taxpayers at risk of having to finance massive financial bailouts. The most prominent of these risky agencies is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States' market-government hybrid mortgage system is unique in the world. No other nation has such heavy government intervention in housing finance. This hybrid system nurtured the excessively risky loans, financed with too much leverage, that fueled the U.S. housing bubble of the last decade and resulted in the systemic collapse of the global financial system.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Reiss
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The federal government recently placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-chartered, privately owned mortgage finance companies, in conservatorship. These two massive companies are profit driven, but as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) they also have a government-mandated mission to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. mortgage market and to achieve certain affordable housing goals. How the two companies should exit their conservatorship has implications that reach throughout the global financial markets and are of key importance to the future of American housing finance policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. government is about to exceed its statutory debt limit of $14.3 trillion. But that actually underestimates the size of the fiscal time bomb that this country is facing. If one considers the unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Human Welfare, Financial Crisis, Governance, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Takis Michas
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political clientelism and rent seeking have been the central organizing principles of Greek society since the foundation of the Greek state in the 19th century. The influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church on Greek nationalism and the legacy of the patrimonialist Ottoman empire produced a weak civil society. The result has been a disproportionately large Greek state and public bureaucracy since the 1800s that set the stage for rent-seeking struggles that have followed.
  • Topic: Corruption, Debt, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jared Lobdell
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: An October New York Times story remarked that “with just five weeks until its deadline, a secretive Congressional committee seeking ways to cut the federal deficit is far from a consensus, and party leaders may need to step in if they want to ensure agreement, say people involved in the panel's work.” We have this “supercommittee” of twelve members of Congress, ostensibly for the purpose of cutting a minimum $1.2 trillion from our deficit, chosen by four appointers, none agreeing with any other on exactly what ought to be done, representing mostly diametrically opposing wings of two parties with irreconcilable differences.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The combination of the recession and financial crisis of the last few years has led to quite the outpouring of books by economists purporting to explain what happened and why, and how to avoid a repeat performance. This very crowded field has seen a range of quality, but a good number of these books have been quite well done. Alchemists of Loss by Great Britain's Kevin Dowd and Martin Hutchinson is another very good treatment of the issues. The authors bring a wealth of experience to their book. Dowd has had a long career as an academic, with much of his work focusing on the history and theory of “free banking” and other forms of financial deregulation. Hutchinson is a longtime financial journalist and has worked in the merchant and investment banking industries in Britain. They have written a comprehensive, fairly detailed, and surprisingly entertaining account of the historical context, theoretical framework, and actual events of the crisis.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Britain
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most important lesson we can learn from the financial crisis is what caused it. Even though the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) has been signed into law, this is still an important question. If we do not attribute the crisis to the right cause, we could well stumble into another crisis in the future; and if the DFA was directed at the wrong cause, we should consider its repeal. There are several competing narratives. One of them will eventually be accepted, and will determine how the great financial crisis of 2008 is interpreted, and thus how it affects public policy in the future.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Author: J. Daniel Hammond
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Chicago School economists have come in for criticism since the financial crisis and so-called Great Recession began in 2007. Commentators have blamed recent problems on a laissez-faire faith in the efficacy of markets and simple rules for business-cycle policy—ideas associated with economics as taught and practiced at the University of Chicago. Events over the past four years, we are told, demonstrate the need for a restoration of Keynesian thinking about business cycles and activist government policies to keep markets from failing. However, there is another aspect of Chicago School economics that is commonly overlooked. This is the conviction that economists' understanding of the business cycle is meager in light of the knowledge necessary for activist countercyclical policy to be effective. From this comes the Chicago School concern that economists and policymakers not attempt to do something beyond their capability. Overreaching can make the problems worse.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Chicago
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent financial crisis was characterized by losses in nearly every type of investment vehicle. Yet no product has attracted as much attention as the subprime mortgage.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation-all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, "When we all burst into Washington ... we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself."
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Constitution vests all the “legislative powers” it grants in Congress. The Supreme Court allows Congress to delegate some authority to executive officials provided an “intelligible principle” guides such transfers. Congress quickly wrote and enacted the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in response to a financial crisis. The law authorized the secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion purchasing troubled mortgage assets or any financial instrument in order to attain 13 different goals. Most of these goals lacked any concrete meaning, and Congress did not establish any priorities among them. As a result, Congress lost control of the implementation of the law and unconstitutionally delegated its powers to the Treasury secretary. Congress also failed in the case of EESA to meet its constitutional obligations to deliberate, to check the other branches of government, or to be accountable to the American people. The implementation of EESA showed Congress to be largely irrelevant to policymaking by the Treasury secretary. These failures of Congress indicate that the current Supreme Court doctrine validating delegation of legislative powers should be revised to protect the rule of law and separation of powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Craig Pirrong
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the financial crisis, attention has turned to reducing systemic risk in the derivatives markets. Much of this attention has focused on counterparty risk in the over-the counter market, where trades are bilaterally executed between dealers and derivative purchasers. One proposal for addressing such counterparty risk is to mandate the trading of derivatives over a centralized clearinghouse. This paper lays out the advantages and risks to a mandated clearing requirement, showing how, in some instances, such a mandate can actually increase systemic risk and result in more financial bailouts.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: William Poole
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: David Wessel is a fine journalist; In Fed We Trust is a fine book. It belongs on the shelf of every student of the 2007–09 financial crisis. It is, as well, a good read for recreational observers of the economic scene. Wessel focuses on Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, but he discusses the role of all the other key players as well. The biographical information on Bernanke is interesting, as are Wessel's comments on the policy approaches and personalities of the other policymakers.
  • Topic: War, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Mark Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Arnold Kling's Unchecked and Unbalanced is a novel and insightful take on both the financial crisis and broader trends in the provision of government services. Its central point is best summarized by its subtitle, “How the discrepancy between knowledge and power caused the financial crisis and threatens democracy.” This is a brief, very readable book for two distinct audiences, those interested in further understanding the financial crisis and those interested in improving the accountability and efficiency of services provided by government.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Author: Deepak Lal
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the early 1980s, I was working as the research administrator at the World Bank, while the Third World was engulfed by a debt crisis. The current global financial crisis has eerie similarities, but different outcomes. Why?
  • Topic: Third World, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Thomas M. Humphrey
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It has become commonplace in the current crisis to refer to the Federal Reserve as the economy's lender of last resort (LLR). Typical is the observation of Glenn Hubbard, Hal Scott, and John Thornton (2009) that "Over many decades and especially in this financial crisis, the Fed has used its balance sheet to be a classical lender of last resort."
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is popular around the world to blame the financial crisis on the United States. But before we identify this as the usual anti- Americanism, we should perhaps look more seriously at our country's housing policies. Unfortunately, there is a strong argument that the financial crisis is indeed the fault of the United States—an artifact of the housing policies that this country has followed since the early 1990s. These policies produced an unprecedented number of subprime and other nonprime mortgages (known as Alt-A), and when the housing bubble topped out in late 2006 and early 2007, these loans began to default at unprecedented rates. In my view, the severe losses associated with these defaults caused weakness of Bear Stearns and AIG—resulting in their rescue—the failure of Lehman Brothers, the severe recession we are experiencing in the United States today, and ultimately the financial crisis itself.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark Calabria
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Charles Rowley and Nathanael Smith have put together a brief, yet extensive, study comparing America's Great Depression and the recent financial crisis. Their focus is on both the economics and the politics behind these events. With both, they demonstrate how each was a failure of government, not of the market. The book concludes with several recommendations for addressing our nation's current economic and fiscal situation. The most original contribution of their work is in bringing a Public Choice framework to evaluating the financial crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Miranda Xafa
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: More than two years on, the impact of the financial crisis that erupted in August 2007 is still being felt as the global economy emerges from the Great Recession. The crisis intensified dramatically after the bankruptcy of Lehman and the rescue of insurance giant AIG in September 2008, which narrowly avoided a near-simultaneous failure of multiple counterparties. The International Monetary Fund's early forecast of the severity of the resulting economic downturn (IMF 2008a) helped mobilize concerted official action to address quickly and forcefully these extraordinary economic and financial events by providing fiscal stimulus to sustain growth, as well as capital injections and guarantees to ease the credit crunch. Following the emergency summit of G20 leaders in Washington in November 2008, support packages for banks were put together in a hurry in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to prevent the dis- orderly failure of systemically important institutions and to restore confidence in the financial system.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Chapter 1 of the book is titled “It's a Horrible Mess,” and in it Laurence Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University, reminds the reader of the breadth, depth, and horror of the global financial crisis. It is a cure for the dispassionate observer of events, an indictment that would send all but those with ice water in their veins to sign up for the Tea Party Express. The book is a particularly well-written account of the crisis that begins in housing finance, spreads throughout the financial system, and then throughout the real economy. The crisis hit in tsunami-like waves beginning in 2007 and continued into 2009.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goals that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Laurence Copeland
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In response to the recent financial crisis, many governments chose to ban or restrict short sales, hoping to mitigate the impact of the stock market downturn. Stock markets function as a continuous election, held to determine the allocation of resources with buyers voting for and sellers voting against investment in particular stocks. Banning short selling is akin to disenfranchising the "no" voter, thereby creating a distortion in the resource allocation process. Ban-induced price distortions damage the integrity of stock prices among investors and potentially cause stocks to expand beyond what is optimal for the firms and the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Everyone agrees that the recent financial crisis started with the deflation of the housing bubble. But what caused the bubble? Answering this question is important both for identifying the best short-term policies and for fixing the credit crisis, as well as for developing long-term policies aimed at preventing another crisis in the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, California, Georgia
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale, Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many commentators have argued that if the Federal Reserve had followed a stricter monetary policy earlier this decade when the housing bubble was forming, and if Congress had not deregulated banking but had imposed tighter financial standards, the housing boom and bust—and the subsequent financial crisis and recession—would have been averted. In this paper, we investigate those claims and dispute them. We are skeptical that economists can detect bubbles in real time through technical means with any degree of unanimity. Even if they could, we doubt the Fed would have altered its policy in the early 21st century, and we suspect that political leaders would have exerted considerable pressure to maintain that policy. Concerning regulation, we find that the banking reform of the late 1990s had little effect on the housing boom and bust, and that the many reform ideas currently proposed would have done little or nothing to avert the crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has long been plagued by scandals, mismanagement, and policy failures. Most recently, HUD's subsidies and failed oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped to inflate the housing bubble, which ultimately burst and cascaded into a major financial crisis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anna J. Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I begin by describing the factors that contributed to the financial market crisis of 2008. I end by proposing policies that could have prevented the baleful effects that produced the crisis.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Allan H. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I am going to make several unrelated points, and then I am going to discuss how we got into this financial crisis and some needed changes to reduce the risk of future crises.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey M. Lacker
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current financial crisis undoubtedly will inspire a great deal of research in the years ahead, and it may take some time before anything like a professional consensus emerges on causes and consequences. After all, it took several decades to document the causes of the Great Depression, and recent research continues to provide new perspectives. Nonetheless, I believe the central questions that are likely to occupy researchers are plainly in view, and some tentative lessons have emerged already. And in any event, legislators are not likely to await the fruits of future scholarship.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eswar S. Prasad
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. and China are two of the dominant economies in the world today and the nature of their relationship has far-reaching implications for the smooth functioning of the global trade and financial systems. These two economies are becoming increasingly integrated with each other through the flows of goods, financial capital, and people. These rising linkages of course now stretch far beyond just trade and finance, to a variety of geopolitical and global security issues. Getting this relationship right is therefore of considerable importance.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac crisis may have been the most avoidable financial crisis in history. Economists have long complained that the risks posed by the government-sponsored enterprises were large relative to any social benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kurt Schuler, George A. Selgin
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On August 17, 1998, Russia devalued the ruble and stopped payment on its government debt, creating a financial crisis that continues today. Some observers have blamed the financial crisis, and the poor performance of the Russian economy generally, on government policies that they claim are rigidly laissez faire. However, a closer look at the Russian financial system reveals that it remains fundamentally socialist, though it has superficial capitalist features.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia